Monday, April 16, 2007

Our Easy Bake Oven

Many of you maybe owned an easy bake oven when you were 10 or so. For those of you that didn't this was a mini oven for kids. You could mix up a teeny tiny batch of muffins (2) and then watch it cook for an hour with a dim lightbulb. I never owned one, but my sister did- that is until my mom talked her into trading that toy with her friend for a more low maintenance one (or maybe that was the doll that pooped- I forget). Anyway I don't think many kids own them anymore- but we do :) it masquerades as our oven. See picture.I'm not complaining- I am thankful that we have an oven at all- since Chinese don't cook with ovens they are hard to find. Actually, it doesn't take that long- but the tiny size, celcius cooking temperatures and strange symbols on the dials still make it a challenge. Our latest challenge in this oven was the easter ham. The ham did fit but the top of it was dangerously close to the top coils which made for a "nice" cispy outside. I have never cooked a bone-in ham before but let me just's not worth it! Den and I were up at 7am stuffing cloves in the meat and then had to cook it for 5 1/2 hours! I'll put it this way- if a honey baked ham store ever comes here- they've got my money. But Den did a great job carving his first ham- who knows maybe I'll be brave enough to try a turkey someday.

Thursday, April 5, 2007


Now this may not seem like a blog worthy topic but most of you have not seen us for at least 9 months so changing our appearance can be newsworthy. Newsworthy for me (Lis), because I never get "funky" hair cuts- the last one I got was with my friend Heather when we lived in another part of China and she held my hand through it. (well not literally) So, here I am with layers- maybe not a big risk for most of you- but pretty big for me. Also, getting a hair cut here in China can be an even bigger risk because you are dealing with translation issues and cultural differences in what is "beautiful". But, all in all, it was a good experience.

Here is my cute hubby and his hair cut. About every 6-8 months he gets this urge to shave his head (don't cry Mom Baker). Den doesn't as much have to worry about language miscommunication with this kind of hair cut, but while he was getting his haircut his "stylist" did very bluntly tell him that his hair on top was "hen shao" which means "very little". So, Den is convinced this is the beginning of the end for his hair. (I'm not so sure, but we've included a picture of the aforementioned area for you to decide:) ) He'd still be cute. :)

Planes, Trains & Automobiles...sorta

Ok, first off, it's crowded here. The following image shows that well. It was actually taken of a "people traffic jam" that occured on a stairway leading to and from a subway downtown. It was a national holiday here at the time, and the line to go down the stairs to the subway was about 50 yards long from what we could tell, and it wasn't moving!

So, seeing as it's crowded here, it can take a while to get places even within the city. Now, Lis and I, trying to be savy, do our best to use public transportation to minimize cost and traffic time. The other day we went to go have dinner with some friends here, and to complete our entire journey we rode our bikes to a subway stop, took an elevated subway (see picture below) to a bus stop, then took a bus for about at long as we could stand it, and then got off and took a taxi the rest of the way.

Why did we only take the bus as long as we could stand it, you ask? Well, there are several reasons. First, it was extremely crowded. No seats, barely any standing room, and seemingly a whole city of 20 million trying to get on our bus. My (Den's) position was right up next to the bus driver. How "right next to the busdriver?" So "right next to the bus driver" that I actually had to move my legs for him to shift gears. Yea, kinda scary. Also, at one point he asked me to remove my backpack because it was obscuring his view of the side mirror. We were pretty tight in there. But honestly, we could have probably handled this "crampedness," if it wasn't for the other problem. We suddenly noticed that there was some smoke in the back of the bus. At first we figured it was just some rude chap lighting up. Then when I heard the busdriver mention the bus was having some problems (remember, I was practically sitting in his lap, so it was no problem hearing him), we looked again and saw the whole back of the bus enveloped in smoke. Something was indeed wrong with the bus. Lis and I didn't stick around to find out what it was, and got off at the next stop and caught a taxi.

So we finally did get to our final destination. Total travel time: 1 and 1/2 hours.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

We're online!

Well here we are, our own little piece of cyber space. Many of you naysayers said we'd never make it here (kelly b :)) , but we did and are ready to post! Living so far away makes us really miss all our friends and family and we hope this blog makes us feel a little closer (or at least that you feel a little more updated on our life). No promises as to how often we'll post but we'll give it the old college try.

For starters- here are a few shots of where we live.

We live in these really tall apartments known affectionately as "The Green Home". This is the view from our balcony.
This is our living room- if you look closely at the wall behind the couch you call see one of two ionic columns that stand in our living room. If you can't see it that well- that's great- we've worked hard to de-emphasize their presence. Our landlord has some very interesting decorating taste- we wish we could capture for you the blue backlights and the green recessed lighting that can be turned on at nighttime in this room, but you'll just have to come visit and see for yourself. :) One unique thing about apartment shopping here in our city is that most apartments come mostly furnished. So, you often end up with an apartment with some very interesting pieces and features (hence the columns). For example, the blue pleather couches you see (not our choice either) that have a board about 2 inches below the cushion, not the most comfortable seat but at least they're tarheel blue!